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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Scottish Deerhound

The Scottish Deerhound is one of the Sight or Gaze Hound breeds. It was also known as the Scotch Greyhound, Rough Greyhound and Highland Deerhound. The Scottish Deerhound resembles a rough-coated Greyhound. It is however, larger in size and bone. Height of males from 30 to 32 inches or more, weight 85 to 110 pounds; height of females from 28 inches upwards, weight from 75 to 95 pounds. It is one of the tallest sighthounds. A Scottish Deerhound comes with a harsh 3-4 inch long coat and mane, somewhat softer beard and mustache, and softer hair on breast and belly. It has small, dark "rose" ears which are soft and folded back against the head unless held semi-erect in excitement. The modern Scottish Deerhound comes in shade of blue/gray but, historically, they came in fawn red, brindle, yellow. White chest and toes are allowed. The skull is long and tapering. The harsh, wiry coat  needs extensive grooming. Some trimming and stripping is required, but little skill is needed. This breed is an average shedder.

The Scottish Deerhound is extremely friendly and a gentle giant. They are polite and affectionate. Loving, friendly and excellent with children. Very courageous and dignified, devoted and loyal, but they are not watch or guard dogs, for they just love everyone.

As with all sighthounds, they are prey driven. So you must be careful in introducing the Deerhound to any smaller dogs or cats in the household. They are a very docile breed. They particularly love laying around and sleeping. But they do need a large fenced area to exercise in. They particularly need exercise when young in order to develop properly. They need another Deerhound to interact with because there are not many dogs big enough to romp and play safely with. They need to be kept on a leash or in a safe area when out, as do all gazehounds. A gazehound may see something they think is "prey" and dash off. They run so fast and cover so much ground that they can be lost before you know it. But they need a safe place to run off leash too. This is an active breed. So having a large, fenced area is necessary whether it's a farm or dog park.

Unfortunately, this loving dog only lives 8-10 years. The serious health issues in the breed include cardiomyopathy, osteosarcoma (bone cancer), bloat and torsion (GDV). It is wise to feed them 2 or 3 small meals a day rather then one big one. Feed them with a raised dish. Avoid vigorous exercise right after the dog has eaten a big meal.

While not as fast as a Greyhound on a smooth, firm surface, once the going gets rough or heavy they can out run a Greyhound. The environment in which they worked, the cool, often wet, and hilly Scottish Highland Glens, contributed to the larger, rough-coated appearance of the breed. The Deerhound is closely related to the Irish Wolfhound. Along with their great sight, the Scottish Deerhound also has a very fine sense of smell. Some of the Deerhounds talents include: hunting, sighting, tracking, racing, agility and lure coursing.

The Scottish Deerhound has been around since before recorded history and may have been bred by the Scots and Picts. They became known as the royal dog of Scotland and no one ranking below earl was permitted to own one. Queen Victoria and Sir Walter Scott owned Scottish Deerhounds. The Deerhound was bred to hunt red deer by “coursing”, and “deer-stalking”, until the end of the 19th century. When Scottish estates were subdivided into smaller estates and with modern rifles, slower tracking dogs were preferred to fast and far-running Deerhounds. They weren't needed and the breed lost popularity and was almost lost. In coursing deer, a single Deerhound or a pair were brought as close as possible to red deer, then released to run one of them down by speed, which if successful would happen within a few minutes - rarely were there sustained chases. Two brothers by the name of Archibald and Duncan McNeill saved the breed in the 1800s when they started breeding them. Again, in Britain, during World War II, many dog breeds fell very low in numbers. It was especially difficult to feed the large dogs, and many people destroyed them because they couldn't feed them.

If you want to own one of these magnificent dogs there are things you have to consider in your decision:
* They are a very large dog, can you handle that? Do you have a vehicle large enough to transport the dog? Is your home large enough for them to walk through without knocking something off?

* They eat a lot. Can you afford quality food?

* Be aware of the breeds health concerns and can you afford vetting?

* Can you provide them with daily exercise? Do you have a place where they can be safe and run?

* They do better if they have another Scottish Deerhound to play and interact with.

* Do you like a very gentle, docile, loving, friendly, owner-attached dog? If you like an independent dog, look at terriers. If you want a guard dog, look at a Doberman Pinscher or Rottweiler. If you want a water dog, get a Labrador Retriever. Just be sure, this breed is what you want. Read up on them and know what you are getting and does this fit into your lifestyle and family.

If you are considering this dog, please consider adopting a rescued Scottish Deerhound. You can do a Google search for "Scottish Deerhound rescue" and look for an organization near you.

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